Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Don’t Forget to Look Up

March 30, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s been a rough month. One that has found me mostly looking downward as I scramble for a leg up. And then tonight — with two days left to go — I took a moment to look up and found the sky awash in color. As I paused to take in the view it hit me: No matter how hard things get, sometimes all you can do is look up and fall in love with the sky all over again.

Categories: Personal

Toddlers, a Bus Stop and Life — Why Horizontal Growth is not Always a Bad Thing

February 17, 2010 3 comments

Just shy of two years ago while sitting at a bus stop in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California, my mother crudely drew on a napkin the growth pattern of toddlers. “Typically when a toddler is getting ready to make a big emotional jump,” she explained in the cold morning fog, “they regress before taking a big step forward.” I nodded as I waved off the passing bus and continued to listen. “This may be why right now you feel you are regressing in your career,” she continued. “It may just be a sign you are getting ready to take a giant leap forward. Just be patient and pray.” True to her motherly instincts three weeks later I landed a speaking gig that effectively launched my freelancing career.

Seriously how do moms do this?

In today’s world there is constant social pressure to always be moving upward. New jobs aren’t supposed to be steps back and second homes aren’t supposed to be smaller. And while in some areas forward momentum is vital, a majority of the time regressing can lead to a big step forward.

But what about moving horizontally? These past several months I have been having hundreds of high-level conversations with CEOs, editors, publishers, freelancers and businessman. Each conversation has the potential to catapult me forward, but many times they leave me stagnant in my career. Or better yet, moving horizontally as a good friend and mentor said.

This got me thinking: Is moving horizontally really a bad thing? With every conversation I gain more experience, learn how to articulate myself and identify the keywords that resonate with different professionals. I’m smarter, quicker and see the industry through a clearer lens. With each conversation I’m finding myself closer and closer to my ultimate goal and, while it might not come for a while, I’m ready to not only continue to grow horizontally, but regress a bit when the time feels right. Of course I’ll have to consult with my mother on that one.

Categories: Advice, Personal

You Boys Like Mexico!

October 5, 2009 4 comments

Name the movie and I’ll give you props. (Have a feeling most won’t be able to nail it.) But the line stands true this week as I prepare to head down to Guadalajara, Mexico for the Society of American Travel Writers annual conference. I’ll be speaking again this year on multimedia and will also be launching my new company Plus Ten Media. It’s going to prove to be quite the trip I’m sure, but like all things, I’ve come to realize I won’t now it’s full power for many years to come.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

September 16, 2009 Leave a comment

One Book, 200,000 blinks of an eye and two minutes a word.

It was Junior year of college during an anthropology course on the narrative structure of disease that I first read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. By the end of that semester my book was marked up with notes, thoughts, observations, literary critiques and the occasional stain from a falling tear. My teacher, a whisper of a women struggling with her own deadly disease, took no pity on our emotional struggles. She pushed and pried our emotions apart until we stripped back the literal meaning and wove into the complex narrative of a man’s free mind trapped in a worthless shell of a body.

Over the years I have picked up the book and leafed through looking at my notes, remembering the intense gut-wrenching class discussions and paralleling the metaphors with my own personal pain. I’ve even sent the book to several people who I thought would benefit from the story. Now as I pick up the book with the fear of learning my teacher may have passed away I can’t help but reflect on the intense message at hand: Just because you lose your perceived freedom doesn’t mean you have to stop living. It just means you have to change your perspective and throw everything else to hell.


Categories: Personal

When Life and Friends Collide: A Wedding Speech

September 15, 2009 3 comments

Took a few minutes to speak at my good friend’s wedding this weekend. Though the speech was off the cuff, I’ve decided to write a bit of it out by memory. Obviously it’s not verbatim, but you get the idea.

Some quick context: I met Joe in college and lived with him for two years. His grandmother, Evelyn, was an awesomely senile and loving Jewish woman who loved to speak on the phone with us during our college years. She passed away last year and sadly never got to see Joe and Erin get married. We relived her life and some of our favorite stories the night before the rehearsal dinner.

The Speech
Joe and Erin, with the exception of the wonderful speeches before me, I find that wedding speeches usually fall into the same boring narrative. First there is a story: One day Joe left on the stove and almost burnt the house down. Then there is a bigger theme: It was obvious Joe couldn’t cook and he would have to find someone to marry that could. Then the lesson: Joe thank God you found Erin, now don’t forget to always do the dishes, she will love you for it.

And as much as I wanted to pull myself out of that narrative structure I just couldn’t. But what I could do was talk to you and Erin as a friend. You see guys, I’m talking to you and 75 of your closest friends and I want you to think about something. Last night while we all sat in the living room something amazing and wonderful happened. For about 35 to 45 minutes, we remembered, laughed, bonded and told the stories of your loving grandmother Evelyn. We sat there, laughing about the WalMart employee and that damn bird that almost got killed, and it was as if life stopped. It was one of those moments when a life gets boiled down to a few stories, intense laughter, and an overwhelming amount of love.

Joe and Erin I want you to do something. In this world of hyper-connectedness, Facebook, Twitter, email, and cell phones, I want you to take a moment every day and stop. Stop everything and look around. We too many times miss the small things that make our lives amazing. I know this because I do it all the time. Just look at where we are now. Sitting here next to beautiful Lake Tahoe next to a sunset most people only experience through a promotional photograph. We should take a second and soak this in. It’s a moment that will define your lives.

So as you go forward building your life, I want you to remember to improve the lives of others and strive for what Evelyn gave us: Roughly 45 minutes of joy and laughter that took a special night to tears, overwhelming happiness and a life remembered.

May God Grant You Many Years

(Pics of the groomsmen and Joe on the lake during the rehearsal dinner)


Categories: Personal

Throwing Caution to the Wind

August 26, 2009 Leave a comment

If I asked what one thing you would do if failure were not an option what would you say?

  • Run a marathon?
  • Quit your job and follow your true passion?
  • Tell your kid to take a flying leap and grow up?

Too many times we put up roadblocks in our lives and come up with sophisticated grounded reasons why not to follow our hearts and take the risk required to find the beauty in life. The sad thing is we can spend an entire life wondering what if. So challenge yourself today and write down what you would do. It’s okay to not necessarily act on it, but identifying the dream is always a solid place to start…

For me it’s acting on intuition, listening to others, and realizing I may live in this world, but I don’t live of it.

Categories: Personal

Three Keys to Happiness

August 24, 2009 2 comments

For the last year I have been working hard on identifying what makes me satisfied in regards to work. I have always marched to the beat of a different drum so it was no surprise this exercise took months. Now after hundreds of hours brainstorming, journaling, diagramming, and running I’ve come up with the list. I consider them my three keys to happiness and the three reasons I am walking away from being a freelance writer and starting a multimedia company.

* Have a creative outlet where I can push boundaries others thought impossible or a waste of resources.

* Satisfy my entrepreneurial drive to build a company/product

* Develop and work with a creative driven team who understands collaboration, taking on new ideas, supporting one another, and pushing boundaries without the fear of failure, but figuring out what doesn’t work.

Categories: Personal